This blog is going to deal with many of the technical aspects of health, nutrition, and training and there will be some posts of a strictly scientific nature. This is not one of those. This post deals with the intangibles, the “Stuff in the Basement” that Stallone spoke eloquently about in Rocky Balboa. I believe that there lies a competitor within every human being because even the most humble of us enjoys the thrill of victory and abhors the agony of defeat. But we can’t experience the joy of succeeding if there was no contest to succeed at in the first place. There are those among us who are content to go through life being moderately successful within our normal, every day jobs and activities but there are those of us who seek more. The greater the challenge, the greater the glory. I recently completed the 2011 Tough Mudder race in Mt. Snow, VT. and despite the difficulty of the course, I was having a blast the whole time. Ridiculously steep hills to traverse, near-freezing water to ford, walls to climb, and finally the shock (pun intended) of being electrocuted right before the finish line, and a huge smile on my face. This made me realize that I will probably always seek out additional challenges in my life to keep myself interested and I believe that if more people sought similar trials with the intention of finding out where their limits lie it would greatly improve their quality of life.
I see so many of my clients and gym patrons come in without specific goals or direction. “I want to get in better shape” or “I want to lose weight” and other equally vague statements are obviously common in the initial conversations between gym goers and persona trainers, but I believe that if everyone could create a hurdle for themselves to defeat, whether it be a Strong Man Competition, Powerlifting Meet, Highland Games,Golden Gloves Boxing tournament, or even a good old boring 5K foot race then it would allow them to not only add more direction to their training but it would give them observable progress and achievements which become few and far between as we get older.
You have to find reasons to productively abuse yourself. Merely floating through existence without ever pushing your limits is really no way to enjoy your life. Pain is inevitable and failure will definitely occur from time to time but its how we respond to defeat that truly shows our character. When the challenge forces you into self doubt and the voices begin to war within your mind; one telling you to quit and one urging you to continue, these are the times when we truly discover things about ourselves.
What was your last great challenge? What did you feel during the difficult times? What future obstacles do you hope to conquer?